Back in high school, there was this crazy intelligent guy who, for the story’s purposes, we’ll call Sam. Sam knew everything about everything: physics, literature, philosophy, math, history. Sam went to UW-Madison, and other than what I saw on Facebook, I never really kept up on what he was doing.

Over winter break, I ran into my old AP Government teacher, who immediately asked what I was doing at school. I told him I was studying political science, and he was glad. I felt proud of myself, until he dealt this blow:

“Have you seen what Sam’s doing in Madison?”

Right. Of course. He wasn’t interested in my collegiate career; if anything, I’d just offered him the perfect segue to Sam. “You’re a political science major? That’s great! You, know, Sam’s been very involved in Wisconsin politics, he wrote a very fascinating article for Madison’s newspaper, and he’s been spearheading the Recall Walker movement… have you done anything like that where you are? No? Well, Sam sure has…”

I’ve always wondered, since that day, if my feelings of utter anger and indignation were unfounded or if they were reasonable. It’s not that I’m envious of Sam’s progress and success, but I wish I hadn’t been compared to him. We’re not on the same level, we never have been. We’re not even really aiming for the same things. And yet, I felt like my own teacher didn’t care about what I was doing, he just wanted to gush about his former star student. What was the point of asking me about me if he was just going to pile me with all Sam’s great tales of glory?

I know I shouldn’t let it get to me, but as I continue studying, I wonder if I’m even good enough for the field I want. My own teachers don’t seem to have the faith in me that they have in this other, rare star. Sometimes I wonder if I should leave political science, try a career in something else. The only real talent I have that’s unique to me is creative writing, but no one lauds a writer like they do an aspiring… what is Sam even studying? Politics? Medicine? Whatever it is, I have the horrible dread that I’ll never be good enough for the people around me.

And that just sucks.


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